Hamas’ explosive balloons reaching farther afield

Dozens have been launched in recent weeks. Their range has increased due to the weather.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Dozens of of explosive devices have been floated in via balloons from the Gaza Strip in the last two weeks, and some have flown much farther than the usual few kilometers to the Jewish communities bordering the Gaza Strip.

A string of balloons attached to an explosive device launched from the Gaza Strip was found outside of Sde Boker early Sunday, leading to an IDF airstrike on multiple Hamas targets. Sde Boker is about 70 kilometers away from the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave.

The device, which resembled a rocket-propelled grenade, was found by security personnel at Midreshet Ben-Gurion, a desert research center and boarding school. It was defused by police sappers, causing no injuries or damage.

Other clusters of balloons have been found dozens of kilometers away in the south as well. They’ve all been safely defused or blown up under controlled conditions.

Another string of balloons, this time attached to an explosive object with a small Palestinian flag included, was found last week outside the centrally located moshav of Mesilat Zion, almost 83 kilometers away from the Gaza Strip, between Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh. Bomb-disposal experts dismantled that device as well.

Helium balloons are also tied to innocent-seeming items and are often of the colorful party variety – all to tempt children to approach and handle the objects.

“They launch many dozens of strings of explosive balloons,” a security official told Israel Hayom on Sunday. “Each time a different explosive device is attached to them – once it’s a book, once it’s a soccer ball, another time it’s an obvious explosive device – in the hope that one of them will hit and cause damage to people and property.”

Arab media report that incendiary devices have become more lethal.

However, the Israeli defense official said that the increased range of the balloons is due to the weather and not an advanced mechanism to fly them further. He said the Hamas method is to “launch and forget.”

In retaliation for the airborne terror attacks, Israel’s air force struck a weapons-manufacturing plant and military post that belongs to Hamas. No injuries were reported in the airstrike.

“The Hamas terror group is responsible for everything that occurs in the Gaza Strip and will bear the consequences for terror attacks against Israeli citizens,” the military said in a statement following the strike.

The police continue to call on the public to report any suspicious objects it may find.